Coronavirus (COVID-19) and people with kidney disease

The current global COVID-19 pandemic is a major challenge to the whole world at the moment and people living with chronic kidney disease or those who are on dialysis or have a kidney transplant have particular concerns.

There is an excellent up to date UK information source from Kidney Care UK. There is advice on what to do, particular risks for kidney disease pateints, actions needed for patients on dialysis and specific questions are answered with support lines also highlighted.

This is the overall summary from the Kidney Care UK guidance and the key is always to keep in close contact with your kidney unit team. Patients on regular dialysis need to be really careful to ALWAYS tell your dialysis unit if you or those in the house are ill - dialysis will not be stopped but different arrangements for safe dialysis will be made.

  • Do not leave your home if you or anyone in your household has Covid-19 symptoms, and call your kidney unit before attending dialysis or other appointments.
  • Everyone should follow the guidance for their own area. Everyone should work from home if they can, limit contact with other people, follow social distancing measures if they go out (2m apart) and wash hands regularly.
  • Having moderate to advanced (stage 3+) chronic kidney disease increases your risk of becoming very unwell if you are infected with Covid-19. People with moderate to advancedCKD (stage 3+) fall within the ‘Clinically Vulnerable Group’ or the ‘Clinically Extremely Vulnerable Group’ depending on their stage of CKD and level of treatment.
  • People in the clinically extremely vulnerable group are at highest risk of very poor outcomes following Covid-19 infection and are advised to follow the guidance that applies in their area.
  • People in the clinically vulnerable group should also carefully follow social distancing guidelines.
  • It is important to seek support if you are shielding yourself and help is available.

For patients with inflammatory renal diseases or with a kidney transplants there may be concerns about the immunosuppressant drugs that you need to take. Do not stop taking them and make sure you discuss with the doctors looking after you about these drugs or new ones that need to be started. You may have questions about vaccination as well – you may have seen in the news that the very first patient to receive the Oxford Astra Zeneca vaccine was a haemodialysis patient. You should discuss any concerns with your kidney unit staff and you can expect to be asked about receiving vaccine very soon if you have not received already. Vaccination is a key part of dealing with COVID-19 in the population and although patients with severe CKD were not included in the original clinical trials, there is strong evidence for the benefit in preventing infection.

The simple things everyone in the UK are all vital for everyone including you and your family - so stay home, keep distance, wash hands frequently and wear a mask when you visit the hospital or clinic. Things will improve and get easier if we all work together.